A few seedlings and a lot of patience have flourished into an organic nursery, composting initiative and market garden.
Dog Day Gardens, a local business committed to growing organic food, is thriving and nourishing St. Augustine and surrounding areas.
Owner Shelby Stec says food production is the root of many of our current social and environmental issues. To address these issues, the question is always, “How do we push a broken system to produce more?” when the real question should be “How can we fix this so it serves all people and the environment?”
Through Dog Day Gardens, Stec is tackling the real question. She grows organic, open-pollinated seedlings she sells to home gardeners as well as vegetables she sells at market. She partners with residents and restaurants to build compost. And she teaches Floridians how to grow their own food through workshops and one-on-one coaching.
Stec didn’t choose gardening or farming as a career – it happened organically, so to speak. Feeling unchallenged by school work (and finding out that her major had been cut), Stec began volunteering in gardens and learning all she could about organic farming.
When she moved to St. Augustine, she continued gardening as a hobby, seeking soil, plants and general advice. It was then that Stec realized there was a void in local options for organic gardening. So she started growing seedlings for herself and some friends – and everything else grew out of that.
Stec says she never anticipated having a business doing all she loves: meditatively potting plugs; transforming food scraps into black, rich soil; installing edible home gardens; teaching others to grow seedlings; and crafting organic shrubs (aka drinking vinegars). With Stec’s plans to expand her business to a larger property coupled with the steadfast support of the community, Dog Day Gardens will continue to grow.
Be sure to stop by Dog Day Gardens’ booth at Made in St. Augustine® to shop seedlings, produce and shrubs. Better yet, participate in Dog Day Gardens’ festival workshop to receive hands-on instruction from Stec on how to start and care for your own seedling garden!